The first Die Hard is regarded by many (including this writer) as the greatest action movie of all time — and while its three sequels each have their moments, none has managed to recapture the magic of the original. Unfortunately, based on the scathing reviews it's receiving, the latest sequel A Good Day to Die Hard isn't just a letdown compared to the original — it's a disappointment in general. The film currently sits at a franchise-low 13 percent positive reviews on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the worst-reviewed movies of 2013, behind critical flops like Texas Chainsaw 3D and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. (Watch a trailer for A Good Day to Die Hard below.) What makes John McClane's fifth outing such a letdown? Here, five reasons to stay home:
1. The movie is poorly directed
A Good Day to Die Hard is the first film in the franchise helmed by director John Moore — and it should also be his last. Moore "leaves nothing to the imagination," says Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune, and works with "a misjudged reliance on absurd digital effects." And as with his previous films, which include Max Payne and the remake of The Omen, Moore fails to show that he's skilled enough to handle "pacing or mapping out a rangy action sequence" as required by a big blockbuster.
2. The script is terrible
The movie's script, which was written by The A-Team screenwriter Skip Woods, is "woefully lacking the kind of one-liners and memorable bad guys that helped make working-class hero McClane so iconic he's still around after 25 years," says Lou Lumenick at the New York Post. And it arrives in theaters feeling hopelessly dated, says Rafer Guzman at Newsday. The film is packed with hoary old tropes like "sneering Russkis, weapons-grade uranium [and] even a showdown in Chernobyl," which makes A Good Day to Die Hard feel dead on arrival.
3. John McClane isn't a real character anymore
The first Die Hard distinguished itself from the glut of action movies released in the 1980s by offering a tough but relatable protagonist who seemed like a real human being. But in A Good Day to Die Hard, the qualities that made McClane "an actual three-dimensional character" have been stripped away, leaving us feeling as if we're "watching Bruce Willis in a Bruce Willis movie in which Bruce Willis can survive anything while taking out the villains, video-game style," says Richard Roeper at RogerEbert.com. McClane "suffers injuries grievous enough to kill him a dozen times over — smashing through windows at high speed, falling through floor after floor of scaffolding, and getting whipped around in a helicopter like a ragdoll," agrees Scott Tobias at The AV Club. "There's no danger threatening this digital cipher, and thus no tension."
4. The villains are dull
The other key to the original Die Hard's success was the instantly iconic performance by Alan Rickman as crafty villain Hans Gruber. But A Good Day to Die Hard only features bland "scumbags, "bad guys," and "generic, faceless military dudes," says Matt Singer at ScreenCrush. And the stakes involved are similarly murky: "What these men want and why is barely addressed," which makes it hard to have any investment in our heroes' attempts to defeat them.
5. The movie can't compete with other major action franchises
A Good Day to Die Hard is trying to find some of the same mojo that made the Liam Neeson-starring Taken franchise a surprise hit — but compared to similar franchises, like "the rebooted Bond franchise and the Bourne films," this latest Die Hard feels dated and cheesy, says Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter. "Comparisons with the reinvigorated 007 series only shows how far behind Die Hard has fallen," agrees Tom Charity at CNN.